GENTECH archive 8.96-97

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Nature article




Yesterday (Saturday, October 26, 1996) in a German newspaper (taz 
tageszeitung) they had 
special 4 full pages on information about monsantos soybeans! 
There you can read all the things other newspapers normally like to suppress, 
successes of
the campaign of greenpeace, consumer organizations, etc. and very important: 
What are saying the food producers: Who approves who boykots!

You can read all that by yourself: http://www.taz.de/~taz/961026.taz/sp_idx10.h
tml
(in German)

For all the non-germans, you should read the scientific magazine NATURE, issue 
of October, 17th.
There they make absolutely clear that a segregation of genetic engineered and 
natural soybeans
poses absolutley no problem (contrary to the claims of Monsanto). 
Even further that already Central Soya Co of Fort Wayne,Indiana,  one of the 
largest soybean processing companies, acknowledged that it had barred 
deliveries of genetically engineered
soybeans to one of its seven US granaries.

You can read the full text under 
http://www.america.nature.com/Nature2/serve?SID=25256&CAT=News&PG=19961017/news
007.html
its for free, but you have to fill a form and get a Username and Password 


Eckart Stein, E.Stein@em.uni-frankfurt.de
http://www.netlink.de/gen/home.html

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The following are excerpts from at article in the October 17, 1996 of Nature 
magazine
titled: Genetic resistance spreads to consumers

                  Genetic resistance spreads to consumers

Washington. A small Iowa company that produces a test able to detect genetic 
alterations in crops
is being deluged with calls as wary European consumers and retailers react to 
the news that
genetically modified corn (maize) and soybeans are being harvested in the 
United States for the
first time.

"There has been tremendous interest," says Jeff Wells, who helped to found 
Genetic ID only two
months ago. "It's the European export trade that's interested," he adds, 
pointing out that it's "not
just health food people [but] general consumers".

According to Wells, orders from corn and soy brokers on both sides of the 
Atlantic have already
pushed his firm to capacity. The firm sells tests that can detect the genetic 
alterations in
engineered soybeans and corn produced in the United States by Monsanto and 
Ciba-Geigy
respectively.

Both crops are genetically altered to resist herbicides made respectively by 
Monsanto and
AgrEvo, a Frankfurt chemical company. The corn is also altered to resist the 
European corn
borer, by insertion of a gene from a bacterium called Bacillus thuringiensis, 
which makes a protein
toxic to the pest.

Both the soybeans and the corn have been passed as safe by the governments of 
the United
States, Canada and Japan. The European Union (EU) has approved the soybeans 
for import and
processing, but similar approval of the corn is bogged down in committees in 
Brussels.

Genetic ID's new tests allow middlemen who funnel exports of corn and soy from 
the United
States to European clients to guarantee that the crops are free of genetically 
altered product -- a
guarantee that many European retailers are now demanding.

In a separate move, one of the largest US soybean processing companies has 
begun segregating
soybeans. Last month, Central Soya Co of Fort Wayne, Indiana, acknowledged 
that it had barred
deliveries of genetically engineered soybeans to one of its seven US granaries.

According to surveys, up to 85 per cent of European consumers would shun 
genetically altered
foods if given a choice. EuroCommerce, a trade group representing one-third of 
EU food
wholesalers and retailers, demanded here last week that US exports of 
Monsanto's soybeans be
labelled.

At the same time, an international coalition led by consumer activist Jeremy 
Rifkin announced a
boycott of the corn and soybeans, focusing on ten companies which the 
coalition will pressure to
guarantee that certain foods are free of the genetically altered crops and 
their derivatives.

The campaign comes amid rumblings of a possible 'corn war' between the United 
States and
Europe. Even as European consumer resistance has mounted to the EU's April 
decision to allow
the import of the soybeans, European countries have divided over whether to 
allow the import of
Ciba-Geigy's genetically engineered corn.

After the EU's Council of Environmental Ministers failed to approve the corn 
in June, the issue
was referred to three scientific committees of the European Commission (EC). 
It is not known
when these committees -- on food, animal nutrition, and pesticides -- will 
make their
recommendations.

But the first corn grown from the genetically engineered seeds is already 
being harvested in the
United States, and exports to Europe usually start in November. Unless the EC 
issues rapid
approval, imports would violate EU rules.

Ciba says that the corn -- 1 to 2 per cent of the expected US harvest -- 
cannot practically be
separated from non-genetically engineered corn. This raises the possibility 
that Europe would
need to ban all US corn imports -- valued at US$500 million in 1995 -- to bar 
the genetically
engineered variety.

Without a European decision soon, "there could be serious trade 
repercussions", says a senior
official at the US Department of Agriculture (USDA).

US officials have dismissed as irrational European concern about the safety of 
both the corn and
the soybeans, and have called impracticable demands for their segregation and 
labelling.

....

But European countries have raised concerns about the corn. Last spring, 
Austria, Denmark and
Sweden raised worries about its environmental effects, including the 
development of pest
resistance to the toxin produced by the corn.

They also worried that the corn's herbicide resistance gene might jump to 
neighbouring weedy
relatives. And they complained that the imports ought at least to be labelled 
as genetically
engineered. Consumer activists argue that labelling would protect against 
unidentified allergens
possibly carried by both crops.

Britain raised separate concerns over the fact that the corn carries a marker 
gene conferring
resistance to beta-lactam antibiotics including ampicillin, which is used 
widely in people and
animals. The UK's Advisory Committee on Novel Foods and Processes (ACNFP) has 
declared
that this poses an "unacceptable risk", as bacteria in the guts of animals 
eating the unprocessed
corn could take up the gene.

....

Meredith Wadman

Nature ) Macmillan Publishers Ltd. 1996 Nature ) Macmillan Publishers Ltd. 
1996 Registered
No. 785998 England.